Subscribe to Granta today

Interview: Evan James Roskos

|

Every few weeks we will be showcasing original fiction from an emerging writer, as part of our New Voices feature. The next in our series is ‘Conspiracy of Males’. Its author, Evan James Roskos, speaks to Roy Robins.

RR: Where are you from?

ER: I was born and raised in New Jersey, a state that is the butt of many jokes: our politics are slimy; our air, land and water are polluted – but the produce is delicious. I grew up in the very suburban county of Somerset, about thirty minutes from New York.

When did you start writing? And why?

In second grade I wrote a story about my trip to the moon. The story won a prize, perhaps because I included multiple characters and drew a fantastic picture of my friend Greg and I standing on the cratered surface. By middle school I began writing poetry in a notebook I labelled ‘Things I Write for No Reason’. I didn’t start writing fiction seriously until college, but even then I felt no pressure to complete stories or work on the craft. I took two creative writing courses and thought I was too good to need to learn how to write. I was a fool. After graduation I began working on a collection of stories about people living in an apartment complex in New Jersey. Later, I self-published the collection at the dot-com publisher where I worked.

I was always a quiet kid who observed things. When I played with my G.I. Joe action figures, I created elaborate storylines. My cousin would simply line up tanks and guns and soldiers and commence fighting. I always gave my soldiers a goal. I've been obsessed with cause and effect and, more importantly, fairness. The basic beats of a plot found their way into almost everything I did as a kid. Because of this, I often played by myself. But I had a great time.

How did you come to write ‘Conspiracy of Males’?

‘Conspiracy of Males’ is, in some ways, a conversation with Rick Moody’s memoir The Black Veil, which is a chronicle of his struggle with severe depression and paranoia. At one point in the book he writes, ‘All the men in the Port Authority Bus Terminal were going to assault me, a conspiracy of males, all secretly indicating their conspiratorial relationship to one another, was circling around me, preparing to strip me in public, to offend my person, to leave me for dead. Not actually dead, because that would have been too easy, just this side of dead, where I could appreciate and linger over the details of my misfortune for years and years’. This passage gutted me. But it wasn't enough for me to simply write a piece that matched Moody’s own experience. I began writing in first person plural, trying to capture the menace. Moody writes about the conspiracy as a manifestation of his depression. I put the conspirators in the position of the cause rather than the effect. That way the reader believes the conspiracy is real.

You’re currently at work on a collection of stories that explore American masculinity. Why the interest in this theme? What does it mean to be an American male?

Don DeLillo, whose novels I love, once said in an interview, ‘In the American soul there is a lonely individual standing in a vast landscape. He is either on a horse or driving a car, depending, and either way he’s carrying a gun. This is one of the essential images in American mythology.’ The collection I'm working on seeks to get beyond the simple declaration that creative and sensitive men (like young writers from New Jersey) are society's hapless victims while uptight, testosterone-driven men are its villains. Anyone can be cruel or kind. I want to understand why men are labelled either lovers or fighters, romantic poets or airforce pilots. I want to know what these labels do to men and to women and to families.

A definition of the American male is difficult because of the geographic size and cultural complexity of the United States. Men of different classes, religions, races and regions are asked to meet different standards. Some overlap, others do not. I don't believe in universals. Instead, I identify and explore struggles that specific men face. There is a view of American men presented by the media – of men as boorish, insensitive, emotionally immature – that manages to underscore various stereotypes that I feel fiction and poetry have a duty to dismantle.

Comments (39)

You need to create an account or log in to comment.

  1. alizajohn

    Fri Apr 25 10:34:06 BST 2014

    seems to stipulate or is this just a statistical artifact within an aggregated narrative about women that's even harder to swallow
    http://www.billetnet.fr/billetterie/concerts/reservations/billets

    #
  2. jams123

    Wed Mar 12 14:46:07 GMT 2014

    just about every person to save this web page for any favorite assistance to assist posted the appearance. Get Traffic watch here dr oz garcinia cambogia where to buy <a href="http://www.dailymotion.com/bubblegumcasting">bubblegum casting</a>

    #
  3. choosecarseat

    Sun Jun 01 05:33:51 BST 2014

    this interview was done so good, please do more of these! http://www.choosecarseat.com

    #
  4. zararaza1@hotmail.com

    Sat Apr 26 13:28:16 BST 2014

    In the consequences a large variety of Chileans were caught or caught with an unidentified variety being tormented by the new program and in many situations killed. http://www.progressiveroofing.ca/

    #
  5. subbiaya@outlook.com

    Sun Oct 12 13:11:01 BST 2014

    No doubt this is an excellent post I got a lot of knowledge after good luck. Theme of blog is excellent there is almost everything to read, Brilliant post. http://alphafuelxtfacts.com/

    #
  6. fitriulina

    Mon Oct 20 10:01:36 BST 2014

  7. fitriulina

    Mon Oct 20 09:58:04 BST 2014

    We were able to meet many great entrepreneurs at this reception including http://www.gamezhacktool.com/2014/07/2048-hack-tool-download-for-ios-android.html

    #
  8. abbey

    Thu Jul 17 12:08:43 BST 2014

    Great post! I am actually getting ready to across this information, is very helpful my friend. Also great blog here with all of the valuable information you have. Keep up the good work you are doing here.
    http://beauty4world.wordpress.com/2014/07/16/organic-body-wash-for-healthy-skin/

    #
  9. aliasaeed

    Fri Apr 25 07:53:11 BST 2014

    Part of the Balearic archipelago which also has the islands of Minorca and Ibiza among its components, yacht charter Mallorca is by far the largest and the most popular, because of its fine weather, the beaches and recently, the infrastructure.
    http://www.klonopinx.org

    #
  10. zararaza1@hotmail.com

    Tue May 13 08:00:24 BST 2014

    The best and most surprising part of studying writing is that it gives me a whole new way to look at literature. Now, when I reread the books that I love, there are new layers of meaning and accomplishment for me to discover. http://www.hundehaftpflichtberater.com/

    #
  11. mas candu

    Fri Jul 11 22:12:28 BST 2014

    MasterPoker88com Judi Poker Online Uang Asli Indonesia Resmi dan Terpercaya
    http://mascandu.com/masterpoker88-com-judi-poker-online-uang-asli-indonesia-resmi-dan-terpercaya/

    BundaPokercom Agen Texas Poker Dan Domino Online Indonesia Terpercaya
    http://mascandu.com/bundapoker-com-agen-texas-poker-dan-domino/

    Sakaupokercom Agen Poker Online Texas Poker Yang Terpercaya
    http://candu-webs.blogspot.com/2014/05/sakaupokercom-agen-poker-online-texas-poker-yang-terpercaya.html

    Daunpokernet Agen Poker Domino Online Indonesia Terbaik Terbesar Dan Terpercaya
    http://mascandu.com/daunpoker-net-agen-poker-domino-online-indonesia/

    GlobalBolacom Agen Bola Piala Dunia 2014 SBOBET IBCBET Casino Poker Tangkas Togel Online
    http://mascandu.com/globalbola-com-agen-bola-piala-dunia-2014/

    BuahPokercom Agen Poker Domino Online Uang Asli Indonesia Terpercaya
    http://mascandu.com/buahpoker-com-agen-poker-domino-online-uang-asli-indonesia/

    #
  12. 47648

    Wed Jul 30 02:47:02 BST 2014


    Discount Polo Shirts Outlet Online Sale

    http://www.overpoloshirt.com

    #
  13. naveenmohsan@hotmail.com

    Tue Jun 17 09:05:47 BST 2014

    But come June, when the lights go out three or four times a day, in temperatures of anywhere from 35 to 42 °C, it’s impossible to imagine or forget your way out of this cruelty. http://www.ffinsider.eu/wii-iso/

    #
  14. JOHN817726

    Sun Jul 20 22:34:56 BST 2014

    You're in point of fact a just right webmaster. The website loading speed is amazing. It kind of feels that you're doing any distinctive trick. Moreover, The contents are masterpiece. you have done a fantastic activity on this subject! –
    http://www.liputan6.com

    #
  15. Aldo Bien

    Sat Aug 09 14:24:38 BST 2014

    Thank you for another informative blog. Where else could I get that type of info written in such a perfect way? I've a project that I am just now working on, and I've been on the look out for such information. http://androidhacks4u.com/dead-trigger-2-hack-unlimited-money-gold-and-more-for-android-2014/

    #
  16. naveenmohsan@hotmail.com

    Thu Jun 19 10:31:41 BST 2014

    You’re currently at work on a collection of stories that explore American masculinity. Why the interest in this theme What does it mean to be an American male. http://www.i-blason.com/htc-one-m8-cases.html

    #
  17. PeterS

    Sun Jul 27 20:32:54 BST 2014

  18. mattius00

    Sun Jul 06 20:00:44 BST 2014

    The convertible used basic hood and sticks weather protection plus detachable side screens, whilst the drop head coupe had wind up windows and a decent hood that could be stowed away http://goutinankle.net/

    #
  19. abbey

    Sun Jul 06 18:49:25 BST 2014

    The urgency to drive digital revenues increased this year as media companies sought new ways to offset declining print revenues or to build sustainable digital-only publishing brands
    http://jeferijones22.tumblr.com/

    #
  20. abbey

    Sun Jul 06 18:10:53 BST 2014

    The urgency to drive digital revenues increased this year as media companies sought new ways to offset declining print revenues or to build sustainable digital-only publishing brands
    http://fresherfruits.webs.com/

    #
  21. sant4

    Thu Oct 02 12:23:21 BST 2014

    I definitely enjoying every little bit of it. It is a great website and nice share. I want to thank you. Good job! You guys do a great blog, and have some great contents. Keep up the good work. http://new-life10.blogspot.com/

    #
  22. 2

    Mon Oct 13 22:34:03 BST 2014

    I definitely enjoying every little bit of it. It is a great website and nice share. I want to thank you. Good job! You guys do a great blog, and have some great contents. Keep up the good work. http://vasectomycost0.wordpress.com/

    #